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The article below is one in a series called Bristol at Work that profiles employees of the City of Bristol Tennessee. Please follow us on Facebook to see other profiles in this series.
As a young teen, Christina Blevins relished sunny afternoons when she could enjoy the sights, the sounds, and the people in her hometown of Grundy, Va., as she walked home from school and the part-time job she held at her father’s law office. Even then, she had a deep appreciation for historic buildings and understood the importance of a vibrant downtown.
“I used to stop at the music store on my way home and buy a cassette tape for my really cool Walkman and then go to Jerry’s, the local convenience store, and get a slush puppy,” she said. “I did that every single day. I just loved walking through my town and talking to people I knew.”
But time passed and things changed quite a bit in the small town.
Grundy underwent a major transformation, thanks to efforts by the US Army Corp of Engineers to combat flooding, and Christina went away to college. She earned a degree in business management from Radford University, then married her high school sweetheart. The couple moved to Linville, N.C, and Palm Desert, Calif. before finally settling in Bristol.
Christina has since earned an MBA from King University and now works as Community Development Specialist for the City of Bristol, Tennessee, overseeing a host of federal programs that serve low- and moderate-income residents. She has helped get the ball rolling on countless housing rehabilitation projects, sidewalks improvements, and neighborhood revitalization projects throughout the City, tackling the mountains of paperwork required to provide safe, sanitary housing for those who qualify. She also helps those in our community who face discrimination when attempting to buy or rent housing, referring them to the division of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that is charged with enforcing the Fair Housing Act.
She’s been employed by the City for just over 5 years, but she’s actually been involved in restoring Bristol buildings for much longer.
After working in the insurance industry for a few years, she went to work as Executive Director of Believe in Bristol, an organization committed to preserving and promoting downtown Bristol. In that role, she spent nearly a decade scheduling events, cultivating relationships with business owners, and leading activities designed to draw the community downtown. It didn’t happen overnight, she said, but thanks to private and public investment and community support, State Street began to come alive.
Christina and her husband, Eric, were key players in the movement.
After creating livable loft space downtown and moving in, they began buying old buildings and carefully restoring them according to historic preservation guidelines. To date, they have helped breathe new life into dozens of historic residential and commercial buildings, leaving their lasting mark on the community.
“We love Bristol and we love historic preservation,” she said, noting that they always choose quality products so they improvements the make will last a good while. “It’s a passion that we share.”
They also share a love of music and music festivals. They are regulars at Bristol’s Rhythm & Roots Reunion each September, and also have attended Shaky Knees in Atlanta, Virginia’s Floyd Fest, Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island and Pickathon in Oregan. Rock, folk, and bluegrass – they love all genres. They’re big fans of boating on South Holston Lake, too, and exploring places they’ve never been. They became parents seven years ago to Ruby Claire, a first grader at Haynesfield Elementary, who shares her parents’ love of music and traveling.
As our nation celebrates both Community Development Month and Fair Housing Month, the City of Bristol proudly salutes Community Development Specialist Christina Blevins, who adopted Bristol as her home and now works tirelessly to pitch in and make it a good place to live for all of us. She’s another perfect example of Bristol at Work.